Free and cheap things to do with your kids
It's Labor Day weekend, so that means no working. Oh wait, when don't moms have a huge to-do list? Please try to avoid hard labor this weekend. We've got lots of free and cheap ways to while away the last of summer, from naval warship tours, to a great roundup of parks for picnics to fun end of summer Gecko Fest.
Looking for a good park to visit this Labor Day weekend? We've rounded up a list of Tampa Bay's best parks, from the spraygrounds of Dell Holmes Park in St. Pete to camping in Hillsborough's E.G. Simmons Park to the beachfront Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs . Check it out here.
Pirates beware, the naval warship USS Independence will be docked at St. Petersburg’s port this weekend. Unfortunately, the free tickets to tour it were snapped up in less than an hour Thursday, but you can still view it in Bayboro Harbor. It’s scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. at the city’s port on Friday, so you could consider watching it zoom under the Skyway Bridge that morning or take up a perch on the Pier or the Bayboro campus of USF St. Petersburg. The best areas for viewing the ship are Bay Vista Park, 7000 Fourth St. S; from the St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE; Lassing Park, 18th Ave. S or 22nd Ave. S.; Poynter Park, located at 1000 Third St. S via 11th Ave. S; or the city's panoramic webcam (Camera 1) at www.stpete.org/webcam.
Funky Gulfport puts on a whimsical Gecko Fest, a family street festival that’s part Mardi Gras, part Mayberry. The walking parade with a gecko theme celebrates the end of summer with more than 200 arts, craft, food vendors and performing artists. There’s live music on two stages starting at noon and the parade gets rolling at 6 p.m. This parade is wacky, noisy and costumed, and you can join in anywhere on the route. There will also be adult and children’s costume contests at the end. Categories this year include best take on the “Lizard of Oz” theme, best decorated umbrella and best hat. The famous street dance starts at 8 p.m. It’s all free along Beach Boulevard in Gulfport starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Two Dollar Target Tuesday is the monthly price break at the Glazer Children’s Museum. It draws a crowd, so brace yourself. Admission is $2 from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Curtis Hixon Park museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. With 12 themed galleries and 170 hands-on activities, there’s lots to explore.
The Westshore mall play area is reopening, and the first 300 kids at the revamped play area grand reopening on Saturday will get goody bags. There are also prizes and giveaways.
There are some Labor Day Weekend deals at MOSI. Buy one admission and get one free Saturday through Monday at the Tampa attraction. And if you haven't tried the ropes course, this could be the weekend.
Jump for Frogs is fun fundraiser. Jump for an hour for the sake of Florida amphibians. Proceeds benefit the American Association of Zookeepers and El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, which was created to safeguard against population loss and threat of extinction to a number of Panama’s endangered amphibians. Visit the website and print the event flier to present at check-in for the proceeds to benefit EVACC. $12 for one hour. Airheads Trampoline Arena, 5072 W Linebaugh Ave., Tampa. (813) 247-4323. 5-7 p.m. today.
Kids can ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad this weekend. It's free (donations for train maintenance are appreciated). Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6775. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Grab a bean bag chair to see a movie along with family-friendly activities including face painting and balloon artists at Countryside mall in Clearwater Today features Disney’s G-rated animated adventure Toy Story. Tuesday features the PG-rated family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Viewings are each Tuesday and Thursday through Oct. 27. Free. Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Suite 2096, Clearwater. (727) 796-1070. 2 p.m. today and Tuesday.
This is the last Saturday Sunsets on the Trail of the season. Musicians and vendors line the beachfront trail along with street performers, water slides and various inflatables for the kids. This week features music by Calamity Jane. Free. Treasure Island Beach Trail Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575. 5-9 p.m. Saturday.
Bring blankets and chairs for a fun family night out to Celebrate Oldsmar with live music, carnival rides, food, inflatables and a fireworks finale. Free. R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. 5-9 p.m. Saturday.
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Mars Needs Moms. Saturday features the PG-rated film Soul Surfer. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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